‘Anger is a complex emotion. One of the major reasons why the emotion of anger has gained a primarily negative reputation is that there is so much misinformation about what anger is and can be, and we only tend to hear and read about unhealthy expressions of anger. It’s tragic that the mostly incorrect and inaccurate misinformation far outweighs the true and accurate facts regarding this powerful and potentially transformative emotion.’ –Dr. Gary Oliver, author of Mad About Us
If you truly want to release yourself from living a life defined by anger, then becoming informed about the facts and letting go of the myths is essential. Let’s start at the beginning and dispel one of the biggest myths about anger. The myth states that to feel angry or express angry feelings is wrong and will automatically lead to negative outcomes.
The Main Myth About Anger
If you believe that anger always lead to negative outcomes then it’s time to realign your thinking. Anger does not always lead to negative outcomes. Anger is not the cause of violence, and is not always a bad thing. In fact the opposite is true, anger let’s us know that something is wrong, and is intended to be a healthy signal that helps maintain our survival. Today this ‘survival’ is usually emotional and it’s when this emotional survival mechanism is used inappropriately that anger becomes trouble.
In short the difference between healthy anger and unhealthy anger is one thing – aggression. Whether aggression sneaks quietly into the room or comes in guns blazing, you can be assured the outcome will be damaging. It’s aggression that causes the damage not the emotion of anger. If used appropriately and maturely anger can be an entirely healthy and appropriate response.
The key to using anger well is to understand and take responsibility for one’s anger, and to channel the energy this emotion creates into positive and useful outcomes. It is this failing to use anger appropriately that turns it from a healthy emotion into a destructive emotion.
Using anger skillfully is not something many of are equipped to do. Most of us are not taught to use anger in mindful and respectful ways, and usually our role models knew less about managing anger than we do. Unfortunately destructive experiences of anger are the most common, usually beginning at an early age and continuing right through our developmental years. This then becomes our anger template, which we use on those closest to us usually our families, especially our partners and children.
The Main Myth About Anger, As a first step towards change becoming aware of your anger is essential. What does it look like, sound like and how does it feel to others? These are important questions to ask yourself and then you can choose to express anger in healthy ways. By using the emotion of anger to express your hurts, fears and anxieties will actually increase mutual understanding, and strengthen and enrich your relationships and ultimately your lives.
If you find that you are struggling with a personal issue in your life seeing a counsellor at the Melbourne Counselling Centre can be very helpful.